The Ataris are a successful pop-punk band best known outside those circles for their Don Henley-despised cover of “The Boys Of Summer.” The band has experienced extreme amounts of lineup turnover — Wikipedia counts four current members and a whopping 19 former members — and among those who’ve stepped off the carousel is bassist Michael Davenport, who left the group in 2005 and rejoined for a reunion tour in 2013 and 2014. He now finds himself in big trouble with federal prosecutors; as The Santa Barbara Independent reports, Davenport was indicted in December on federal conspiracy and fraud charges related to a telemarketing real estate scam.
Between the years of 2009 and 2016, Davenport allegedly ran an operation that cheated approximately 100,000 people out of $27 million. He and business partner Cynthia Rawlinson were both charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud, all of which adds up to a potential sentence of 30 years for each person. Their alleged scam involved posting “pre-foreclosure” houses for sale on Craigslist. When people would call to inquire about the homes, they were told a $199 fee was required to access complete property information and that buyers could simply transfer the deed into their names and take over the mortgage payment. When it became clear the homes were not for sale or did not exist, disgruntled customers were told they needed to wait 90 days for refunds that ultimately never came.
These scams were perpetrated by a company called American Standard, for which Davenport was owner and Rawlinson was sales manager. The FBI raided the company’s Santa Barbara office and Lompoc call center in October 2016. Authorities seized more than $104,000 in cash from Davenport upon his arrest and are working to seize another $850,000 from his personal bank accounts. He and Rawlinson will be arraigned Wednesday at the federal courthouse in St. Louis.